Mars will appear especially bright Tuesday night, at opposition with the sun


Opposition describes the occasion marked by the sun, Earth and Mars all lining up perfectly. Earth is in the middle, so the sun is on one side while Mars is on the other. That means Mars will be at the opposite point in the sky, above the horizon after the sun has set.

It also means Mars will appear fully illuminated from the vantage point of Earth-dwellers, causing it to appear especially bright.

Where to look

Mars was closest to Earth a week ago on Oct. 6, in fact the closest in 15 years, but appears more brilliant Tuesday night. That’s because it’s in a better position to reflect more sunlight back at us. Last week, it was doing so at a slanted angle, acutely diminishing its apparent magnitude.

If you’re looking to catch Mars at its most effulgent, all you have to do is look east an hour or two after sunset. Mars will be highest toward midnight.

You’ll be able to tell which one is Mars based on its brightness and color. Only Venus and the Moon will be more scintillating. But Venus makes its appearance in the mornings.

You’ll also see a reddish tinge to Mars, resulting from the iron oxide-rich surface that gives it a rusty hue.

What is opposition, and how often does it occur?

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. Earth is located about 93 million miles from the sun; Mars averages 142 million miles. It’s the last of the solar system’s solid, dense inner planets, which also include Mercury, Venus and Earth.

Earth rotates around the sun once every 365 days; Mars takes 687 days to do the same, so a year on Mars is longer. That also means that Earth and Mars are usually in different places in their orbits

Studying the sun as a star to understand stellar flares and exoplanets — ScienceDaily


New research shows that sunspots and other active regions can change the overall solar emissions. The sunspots cause some emissions to dim and others to brighten; the timing of the changes also varies between different types of emissions. This knowledge will help astronomers characterize the conditions of stars, which has important implications for finding exoplanets around those stars.

An international research team led by Shin Toriumi at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency added up the different types of emissions observed by a fleet of satellites including “Hinode” and the “Solar Dynamics Observatory” to see what the Sun would look like if observed from far away as a single dot of light like other stars.

The team investigated how features like sunspots change the overall picture. They found that when a sunspot is near the middle of the side of the Sun facing us, it causes the total amount of visible light to dim. In contrast, when the sunspots are near the edge of the Sun the total visible light brightens because at that viewing angle bright structures known as faculae surrounding the sunspots are more visible than the dark centers.

In addition, X-rays which are produced in the corona above the solar surface grow brighter when a sunspot is visible. The coronal loops extending above the sunspots are magnetically heated, so this brightening appears before the sunspot itself rotates into view and persists even after the sunspot has rotated out of view.

Because the changes in the overall solar emissions and their timings carry information about the location and structure of features on the surface of the Sun, astronomers hope to be able to deduce the surface features of other stars such as starspots and magnetic fields. This will help astronomers to better recognize dimming caused by the shadow of

Elon Musk says humans must leave Earth “because sun will engulf our planet”


Elon Musk has said that humans have to become a "multi-planet species". (Getty)
Elon Musk has said that humans have to become a “multi-planet species”. (Getty)

When Elon Musk launched a Tesla into space, it carried a sign saying “Don’t panic” on the dashboard – but the billionaire was in a more doom-laden form this week.

The SpaceX and Tesla pioneer warned, in an interview with The New York Times podcast Sway, that travel to other planets was necessary as Earth would be engulfed by the Sun.

Speaking to host Kara Swisher, Musk said: “I think this is fundamentally important for ensuring the long-term survival of life as we know it, to be a multi-planet species.

“Eventually the Sun is going to expand and engulf Earth. It will expand and incinerate Earth. It is for sure going to happen – but not any time soon.”

Read More: Starlink, everything you need to know about the satellite network

This is something of an understatement, as the Sun’s expansion is not predicted to happen for at least seven billion years.

Musk said that becoming a multi-planet species would allow human civilisation to dodge extinction events that had affected other species.

He said: “The fossil record does show many extinction events over the millennia, from meteors, from super-volcanos, from natural climate variation.”

Watch: Elon Musk says Tesla will offer an affordable driverless car within 3 years

The billionaire also touched on one of his favourite topics when he warned of the threat of artificial intelligence (AI).

He said: “AI does not need to hate us to destroy us. If it decides that it needs to go in a particular direction, no hard feelings it would roll over us, like we would do with an anthill if we were building a road.

Read more: Elon Musk dismisses astronomy concerns over Starlink network

“We need to think of

Parker Solar Probe Makes Closest Ever Approach to the Sun


NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set to break a record tomorrow, becoming the closest-ever human-made object to the sun. The probe will break its own previous record, coming within 8.4 million miles of the sun’s surface and traveling at 289,927 miles per hour.

This will be the probe’s sixth flyby of the sun since it was launched in 2018. As it orbits around the sun, it gets gradually closer and closer with each pass, and over the summer it got an extra boost by using the gravity of Venus to adjust its trajectory. In July this year, the probe came within just 518 miles of the surface of Venus, and the gravitational assist from this maneuver allowed the probe to get 3.25 million miles closer to the sun than its last pass in June.

This flyby will also be the first time that the probe will pass within 0.1 AU of the sun. An AU, or astronomical unit, is a measurement of distance where 1 AU is equal to the average distance between the Earth and the sun.

Artist’s concept of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

“After our last orbit — during which we started science operations much farther out than this encounter — we’re returning our focus to the solar wind closer to the Sun,” said Nour Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe project scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, in a statement. “We always wonder if we’ll see something new as we get closer and closer. And as the solar cycle rises and the Sun becomes more active, we’ll be able to observe that activity from an unprecedented vantage point.”

The probe is collecting data on the sun’s activity to understand more about its outer atmosphere, called the